“Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:14-15 NRSV)
Abraham recognizes that these three men are an appearance of the Lord – or at least messengers or something special (hence the special treatment in verses 1-8). How does he know? We know because we are told the Lord appeared to him (vs. 1) but not how Abraham did.
This was no quick interaction either – the bread was made fresh, the calf was slaughtered and prepared. And Abraham doesn’t eat with them but rather stands ready to serve them as they eat what he has prepared.
Sarah’s reaction is laughter – to ridicule what the “man” says. How can this be when both of them are old? Does she still believe the promises?
Yesterday I saw this Tweeted – “What are you praying for in 2015 that is so big only God can get credit when it happens?” And truthfully I had to answer – nothing. Most of my prayers are responses to specific needs in the moment – things I need, family members or friends in distress, church family members who need me and have asked for my prayers.
But do I pray for laughable things – things at which Sarah would also laugh? No – I because I laugh at God too. I laugh at the greatness, the goodness, the largeness of our Lord. I laugh or mock. I am cynical towards even my Divine Father, toward my Gracious Savior, toward the Ever-present Spirit.
And like poor Sarah I am caught out by God for my ridicule. I deny my laughter even as it is still on my lips. I deny my gentle mockery of others and of God for such audacious hope.
Lord of Abraham and Sarah,
whose power is greater than my imagination of it,
whose promises are more enduring than my mockery of them,
whose presence sees into my heart and my unbelief:
Give me bold dreams, dreams as great as the on you gave to Abraham and Sarah. Give me courage to pray for what you would do that only you can do in my life, in my relationships, in my church, in my community, in my world.
May my laughter be replaced with joy, my mockery with awe. And may I in due season see you revealed at the end of such a time of prayer.
In the name of the one who came from Abraham’s line and whose words also brought laughter and unbelief and yet proved true – Jesus, the Son. Amen.